Imaginaries of the Asian Modern

Lan Le

Lan Le

In an age of globalization, texts increasingly migrate not only out of their native medium, but their native countries as well. Within the East Asian region, a booming television program trade circulates television texts, both as programs and as formats for re-making within the native culture industry. In this paper, I examine the program Hana Yori Dango, a Japanese manga turned television program that has been produced in Taiwan, Japan, and recently Korea. In particular, the Korean adaptation called Boys over Flowers, which simultaneous caters to a national and export market, exists in cultural and historical tension with the originating authority of the Japanese version. Texts then, in this process of industrial adaptation and cultural indigenization, may be understood as contact zones where asymmetries of historical power battle. Examining the mismatch of Korean form and Japanese narrative in this television melodrama, the narrative traversal of modern spaces, and the reparative capacity of nostalgia in fiction, I expose a contested process of adaptation that defies the easy descriptor of “hybridity.” Reading the text historically and comparatively, I locate not only the cultural specificities and anxieties that mark this program as Korean, but also the phantom of a common, regional imaginary of the Asian modern.

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